Korea-Part 2

In the last blog post, I promised that we will be partying in Busan like a local. Well—that didn’t quite happen. We DID, however, eat lots of amazing food —our budgets have been thrown out the window long time ago. We haven’t cooked in Korea at all in the past 2.5 weeks. The food has been soo good—too good to pass up.

thumb_IMG_6431_1024The best pork belly I’ve ever had– they have 8 different flavor/ marinates– and that’s a HUGE amount of food and vegetables– This was USD $25!!

thumb_DSC05427_1024Street food galore– this one is hoteok- korean sweet pancake filled with delicious pine nuts and peanuts. yum.

thumb_DSC05424_1024They have street OJ sellers here too! Although way more expensive than the ladies in Peru.

We spent two nights in Busan and did all the necessary touristy stuff— Busan is very pleasant- people are extremely friendly. The city itself is not as big as Seoul so it’s way easier to navigate and feel like we’ve seen most parts of town/ the cool neighborhoods.

thumb_DSC05396_1024Busan port

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thumb_DSC05406_1024Oh, don’t mind the fish drying on the sidewalk- this was on the way to Jaggalchi- the famous Busan’s fish market

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thumb_DSC05408_1024Takoyaki, anyone? One of the octopi (octopuses?) managed to get out of the pail and slithered on the sidewalk a bit before being recaptured

thumb_DSC05412_1024This place is huge! Endless rows and rows of these– mini aquariums filled with abalones, oysters, clams, HUGE mussels (like 8 inches long!), sea cucumbers, etc etc. I was trying to be stealthy here, so the pictures is a bit blurry- but it was wonderful, super clean, did not smell fishy and rather colorful! It was just sad to see the amount of seafood available- Brady and I wondered- how can there be still fish in the sea?

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thumb_DSC05419_1024Brady witnessed a stall owner de-skinning an eel as it slithered and struggled in his hands (not pictured)– Needless to say- we didn’t quite eat any fish/ seafood there.

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thumb_DSC05423_1024This picture (and the one before), depicts Brady being 1.5′ taller than anybody else. Grande gigante visits Kowea!

thumb_IMG_6454_1024We also visited the water temple by the sea– it was so crowded (it was a Sunday)

thumb_IMG_6453_1024Brady obsessed about this make-a-wish coin-toss into the little bowl above the turtle– he actually made it! I wonder if he wished for longer bike touring trip?

thumb_IMG_6460_1024Stumbled across this brand new brewery in Busan- opened 3 months ago. The Korean government just changed a few brewing policies a couple years back, so there is now a mini explosion of (real) beer brewing companies. Here’s Brady looking very pleased with his IPA.

We only had limited amount of time in Korea, plus, the 4 last days of our time in Korea was holidays for Korean. It’s known as the Chuseok- the mid-autumn holidays likened to Thanksgiving in the US. People flock back to their hometown, ate a lot of festive food and businesses close down. Which is why we figured we should head on back to Seoul earlier rather than risking starving and without a place to sleep (unlikely to happen, but still…) during the Chuseok time.

So we took the bus from Busan to Uljin (2/3rds the way back up the East Coast), and biked from there along the East Coast to Sokcho, then West through the DMZ area back to Seoul. The East Coast portion from Uljin to Sokcho had new bike paths, opened in May 2015. Then heading West towards Seoul through the DMZ did not have assigned bike path, but the government plans to open one in 2019.

thumb_DSC05432_1024East Coast area is more commercialized- I think they get a lot of tourist traffic in the summer (vacation for kids). It was completely empty while we were there (mid September). The weather was great, not too hot, not too humid- just perfect. There are endless stalls like the one pictured above selling dried fish and live sea food.

thumb_DSC05430_1024Eating breakfast of rice and kimchi from 7-11.

thumb_DSC05433_1024More fish drying on the beach. The Koreans used every usable public space for  drying of their food, nuts, red pepper, and fish, more fish! They also used lights (huge light bulbs strung in water) to attract the cuttlefish at night.

thumb_DSC05439_1024We saw this on the bike path! 27000 people have used the bike path!

thumb_IMG_6496_1024Endless seafood stalls. The bike paths on the East Coast is not as nice as the one from Seoul-Busan. I think it’s because the bike paths from Seoul-Busan goes along the river, for which the government (or Korea Water) already has the right of way. It’s more difficult to add a few bike lanes on existing  city streets along the receding coast.

thumb_IMG_6489_1024This is what’s nuts– so many portions of the coast was lined with fences and barb wires (as pictured). We also saw so many guard posts with soldiers looking yonder to the open sea for signs of submarines. I guess they had a North Korean submarine discovered on the East Coast a few decades ago. There were posters everywhere to remind people to notice the signs of submarine and an app to alert the South Korean police/ army should there be a sighting.

thumb_IMG_6503_1024Nice bike path as we were entering Sokcho

thumb_IMG_6504_1024We splurged and spent USD $55 on this hotel room, with an almost full kitchen and the view of the Seoraksan mountains (one of the most famous National Park in Korea).

thumb_DSC05441_1024The next day, we took a hike up the Ulsan Bawi, a rock ridge in Seoraksan.

thumb_DSC05444_1024There was a sample, built inside/under the rock behind me. A monk was chanting and sounding the gong. Mesmerized, we stuck around for half an hour.

thumb_DSC05450_1024Then made our way up the Ulsan Bawi- the store/ stall owner lugs lots of water up here. I paid $5 for a glass of hot coffee. Worth it.

thumb_DSC05455_1024It was a clear day and we could see both sides of the mountains, including the road pass that we’d have to bike the following day

thumb_DSC05463_1024Giant Buddha in Seoraksan.

thumb_IMG_6519_1024I love seeing the Korean hiking attire scene- so colorful, super trendy and hi-techy looking.

thumb_IMG_6522_1024We donated $$ and got to write on clay roof tile that will be used to build a temple– We obviously don’t know how to draw a bike, despite having been riding them for the past five months.

thumb_IMG_6524_1024A little toe dip on Sokcho beach.

thumb_IMG_6528_1024Another good things about Korea: take-out amazing friend chicken AND the plastic gloves provided with so you don’t have to get your hands dirty.

After Sokcho, we made our way West, leaving the coast, going slightly uphill and close to DMZ line.

thumb_IMG_6566_1024Lots of greeneries, not quite turning yellow/ red yet. Another week or two!

thumb_DSC05485_1024The roads were very quiet, passing some reservoirs with tiny hills.

thumb_DSC05464_1024So we had time to goof off

thumb_DSC05474_1024Found Marty the Mantis.

thumb_DSC05482_1024He hung out (or hung down?) on my bike for a bit.

thumb_IMG_6571_1024Staying at small towns is the best. We found a bunch of restaurants selling the specialty of this North Eastern Area– DakGalbi- Chicken marinated in red pepper sauce, cooked on a pan with cabbages, green onion and lettuce. My favorite!

thumb_IMG_6629_1024And the mocchi-licious ice flake, red beans, milk patbingsoo.

thumb_DSC05437_1024Brady has never had these Korean grapes before. He declared that now he understands why the Hi-Chew grape flavor tastes the way they do. These grapes taste exactly the same as the candy (or the other way round, I guess)

thumb_IMG_6577_1024There were quite a bit of military activities– lots of jets could be heard and seen, lots of practice guns firing in the distance, and the trucks carrying (very young) soldiers.

thumb_IMG_6627_1024Or this huge gun/ missile firing thing

thumb_IMG_6609_1024Or tanks!thumb_IMG_6545_1024So signs like this are necessary!

thumb_IMG_6624_1024But there were also more beautiful river trails and bridges.

thumb_IMG_6606_1024Like this one where there’s a huge diamond ring in the middle of the bridge. We saw lots of dragon boats and soldiers practicing in the water.

thumb_IMG_6672_1024I’m wearing a newly acquired $3 ajumma (Korean old lady) pants. So comfortable, although not the most flattering.

thumb_IMG_6500_1024I started biking like a bike ninja– face almost completely covered. My face was getting a bit rashy so I wanted to stop the sunscreen for a bit. Plus its normal to bike like this (for both men and women) here in Korea.

thumb_IMG_6556_1024Red pepper drying on the streets.

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thumb_DSC05493_1024Fooling around in the tunnels that’s somehow lighted like a love-motel.

We also managed to join a short tour of the DMZ where we went to the observatory post and peered over the DMZ line into North Korea. Not allowed to take pictures there.

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So here’s a picture of me and a South Korean flag, instead.

thumb_IMG_6669_1024We took the DMZ train back to Seoul, just in time for Chuseok.

Here’s some pictures from our 3 days in Seoul:

thumb_IMG_6677_1024Hiking up to the Seoul Tower

thumb_IMG_6682_1024It’s famous for the love-locks here. People put locks with their names and their declaration of love. There were hundreds of thousands of these!

thumb_IMG_6684_1024From the top of Namsan hike!

thumb_IMG_6693_1024Fake river canal in the middle of the city

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thumb_IMG_6718_1024On our off day (and Chuseok day), we biked 90 miles on the river path again.

thumb_IMG_6702_1024The parks were crowded with Koreans hanging out with their family

thumb_IMG_6704_1024We found a stall selling makgeolli under a bridge, served with tofu and kimchee. Only pictured one bottle. We had a couple and biked some more (yay for helmets)

thumb_IMG_6687_1024Best.invention.ever

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Met up with a couple of UC Berkeley Taekwondo friend– they just so magically happen to be in Seoul at the same time!

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Street food

thumb_IMG_6767_1024Anddd– the last train ride to the Airport to head to JAPAN!

thumb_IMG_6769_1024Packed out bikes at the airport– we are getting quite efficient at this (although very hobo-like), I’m quite embarrassed.

Off to JAPAN!

3 responses to “Korea-Part 2

  1. The adventure continues…food and so much fish. You both look so fit and lean. The Korean look is becoming and the blue shirt survives!

    Like

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